By Chino Leyco
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Customs to donate all food items fit for human consumption that it had seized to the swelling number of evacuees from Batangas and Cavite following Taal Volcano’s eruption.
“I have directed the Customs to determine which confiscated and unclaimed shipments of food items in the ports are fit for human consumption so that these goods can be sent right away to the victims of Taal’s continued eruption,” Dominguez said.
In compliance with Dominguez’s directive, Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco said they immediately turned over a number of seized items to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for Taal evacuees.
Among these food items were some 32 pallets containing 180 boxes each of canned Libby’s Vienna Sausage, which the bureau seized at the Port of Manila in March 2018.
The donation will help feed 53,000 families or around 267,000 evacuees, Dy Buco said.
The Customs official, meanwhile, assured that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the shipment of Libby’s canned sausages as fit for human consumption.
The deed of donation for the food items has also been signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and approved by Dominguez to set in motion the process of sending the food items at once to the evacuees.
Dominguez said he was also informed that Guerrero had already instructed all customs ports to determine whether other items, aside from foodstuff, can be donated to the increasing number of Taal evacuees.
Dy Buco said the Customs will send samples to the FDA to find out if a separate seized shipment of canned corned beef items stored in a 1 x 20-foot container are still fit for human consumption and could thus be donated to the evacuees.
“We have also coordinated with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for them to determine whether several containers of frozen fish seized at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and forfeited in favor of the government are fit for human consumption. If found to be okay, the same will be donated,” Dy Buco said in his report to Dominguez.
On Dominguez’s earlier instructions, the Customs had been donating its seized “hot” rice shipments to the DSWD for use in the Department’s disaster relief operations.
The bureau has also turned over other confiscated items to the DSWD such as emergency survival blankets, bed sheets, blankets and towels, clothes and face masks seized from various customs ports.
Under Chapter 10, Section 1141 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), goods under Customs custody that are up for disposal “may be donated to another government agency or declared for official use by the Bureau, after approval of the Secretary of Finance, or sold at a public auction within 30 days after a 10-day notice posted at a public place at the port where the goods are located and published electronically or in a newspaper of general circulation.”
Also, goods suitable for shelter, food items, clothing materials, and medicines “may be donated to the DSWD,” the CMTA states.